Hachette parent company Lagardère has reported a 0.9% increase in total like-for-like publishing revenues for the first quarter, but revealed a 3.7% fall in the UK compared to last year's Fire and Fury-fuelled success.
The decrease in UK revenues compared to the same period in 2018 was put down to the lack of standout bestseller compared to last year’s book on Donald Trump's White House by Michael Wolff (Little, Brown). Without revealing break-out figures, Hachette UK c.e.o. David Shelley said his group’s results were still “excellent” with sales and profit “well ahead of budget”.
Shelley said backlist titles had helped lift Hachette UK’s figures and revealed audio sales were up 30% year on year. He said Hodder Education also had an “excellent first quarter”, particularly in secondary and further education.
He said: “Despite no standout bestseller in the first quarter to compare with last year’s publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury in January 2018, Hachette UK can report excellent results for the first quarter of 2019 with sales and profit across the group well ahead of budget.
“The group’s good results are down to a number of factors: a strong frontlist and particularly strong backlist sales across the board with standout results from Hodder & Stoughton, John Murray Press, Bookouture, Hachette India and Hodder Education.
“This included strong ongoing sales of Christmas titles well into the first quarter - in particular Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to Big Questions (John Murray) and Noel Fitzpatrick’s Becoming a Supervet (Trapeze) and bestsellers published in the quarter amongst them, Jane Harper’s The Lost Man (Little, Brown) and, in paperback, Val McDermid’s Broken Ground (Little, Brown) and Jill Mansell’s Maybe This Time (Headline). In the first quarter of 2019, audio sales are up over 30% year on year.”
He added: “The second quarter of the year is off to a flying start with a number of bestsellers riding high in the Sunday Times lists including Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie (Trapeze) Onjali Q. Rauf’s award-winning The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion Children’s Books), Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White (Sphere) and Philip Kerr’s final novel Metropolis (Quercus).”
Across the whole of the Lagardère group there was a 8.9% year-on-year increase for the first quarter, spurred by the strong performance of its travel retail and sports arms. Group revenue totalled €1,708m for the quarter versus €1,555m in the same period last year, representing a rise of 9.8% and 8.9% like-for-like.
Across the whole of Lagardère Publishing, revenue totalled €460m, up by 0.9% on a like-for-like and 4.1% on a consolidated basis, thanks mainly to good performances in the US and France alongside its Partworks magazine series. The report noted its first quarter “traditionally makes a relatively low contribution to the year as a whole”.
E-books accounted for 9.1% of total publishing revenues, with the proportion remaining stable compared to the same period in 2018. Digital audio represented 3.8% of revenue versus 2.5% in 2018.